The clock ticks loudly. Time to make that quilt for my soon-to-be born grandchild. I have no idea what I want it to look like – something that doesn’t alarm me cause I usually start with only the vaguest notion of what I want to do. Even on the rare occasion when I do have a detailed, clear idea, it seldom turns out the way I envisioned, creativity being what it is and all. Not knowing the gender or room color, I gather my supplies, selecting colors that tickles my eyes and cloth that satisfies my touch. I trust my Bones.
Ideas and images come to call as I go along. I cut scraps into ovals and send them out to my elves, asking them to get signatures for me. And when the pieces come back, I decide I have to – I just have to – stitch over the autographs to make them more visible, more lasting.
I stitch wherever I am – in the car, on the sofa, in the studio. Sometimes I stitch in the darkness of a hospital room.
and at my niece’s house. (Which reminds me: I need to order them some more bubble juice.)
My 2 year old great nephew is gracious enough to model a monkey for me, something to fill that unexpected bare spot. Once it is stitched, he seems a little under-enthusiastic about my monkey (which indicates his bend towards the more literal-brained side of the family). (Which is all of them except Nancy.) (Though a couple of them seem to be melting a little bit as they go along.)
I stitch the bird and the nest and the flock of birds while at my son’s house. Because all I could hear on the inside was a short tape of things my father-in-law said when I showed him the sketches I made on my first day of drawing class, I decide to cut freehand instead of drawing on the fabric and cutting on the lines. I feel like a proud kindergartner when I show my son the impromptu birds and nest. I’m not sure he noticed the heart-shaped eggs. They were a last-minute addition. Of course.
(Note: See that autograph just to the right of the top bird on the left in the picture above? That’s Nancy’s signature. And the one to the right of it? That’s my 2-year old great-nephew’s siggie.)
I stitch the trunk (which was originally hanging down below the quilt) and the branches while at my daughter’s house. Oh those branches. What a fit they give all of us – Alison, The Engineer, and me. I lay down fabric for each branch to indicate the different branches of the family tree. But it is too chaotic – too much visual clutter. The three of us grow quite cranky. Nobody knows what to do. Finally, in a Hail Mary foot stomp kind of move, I find enough of the same fabric, fold it over and over again, lay it down on the already-attached branches, and voila! My eyes calm and purr. Each branch now sports a different base and the same top cover. The same, but different. Together, but separate. I like that. And the trunk? It is far too distracting hanging down, so I snip it off and hem it up.
At The Very Last Minute, I add an impromptu gathering of our cats and dogs, sitting in a surprise flower bed. Then I add the invitation . . . When becoming gets too hard, go to the Forest. Maybe this is one time I should’ve printed my words on paper and stitched through the paper cause then I might’ve had room to say “family” forest. Hopefully everybody – and most especially You Know Who – gets the idea.
Finally this happens
and this (oh those Chambers men)
and 3 months later, when they come for a visit here atop the mountain,
this happens while Calder Ray lays on a pallet of 3 quilts made by my grandmother,
his great great grandmother. First we sing our first duet . . .
. . . then one sings and the other dances.
In this neck of the woods, we call that a Hootenanny.
(And um, about that singing. It’s fairly obvious to everybody
that Alison does not get her talent from me.)
And now the quilt – Calder Ray’s Standing Invitation – hangs in his room.
Signed. Sealed. Delivered.
(Note the wall color – ha!)
Everybody calls him Calder, but I’m Southern,
and we like double names, so I call him Calder Ray.
And on top of the shelves under the quilt is this blue elephant. I bought it before he was born cause I knew – I just knew – he was gonna’ be a boy. Because so many different colors of dirt and rocks lie between Calder Ray and me, I keep Mr. Blue Elephant filled to the brim with handwritten bedtime notes from me. When he’s old enough to appreciate it, his parents are supposed to pull one out every night when he’s tucked into bed and read it to him. Eventually he’ll be able to read them himself, of course, and I already know things I want to write him when he’s off at college or heading down The aisle. You know I do.
I also have an inkling of another quilt I want to make him. Well, 12 or 15 quilts, actually. One to wrap up in when he is sick. One to wrap up in when he needs fortification. One to lay on for nap time. A quilt to sleep under on Christmas Eve, another for Valentine’s Day (also my birthday, so that one will have to be special), his birthday quilt, a New Year’s quilt, a First Day of School quilt, and a big, anytime/anywhere quilt that will remind him of the special sauce I’ve already begun whispering to him every chance I get:
You are kind.
You are funny.
You are smart.
You are creative.
This quilt I can already see.